Improving Quality of Care Through a Mandatory Provincial Audit Program: Ontario's Emergency Department Return Visit Quality Program

ON-LC-Return Visit Quality Program

Ontario (ED)

The Emergency Department Return Visit Quality Program was launched in Ontario, Canada, to promote a culture of quality. It mandates the province's largest-volume emergency departments (EDs) to audit charts of patients who had a return visit leading to hospital admission, including some of their 72-hour all-cause return visits with admission and all of their 7-day ones with sentinel diagnoses (ie, acute myocardial infarction, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and pediatric sepsis), and submit their findings to a governmental agency. This provides an opportunity to identify possible adverse events and quality issues, which hospitals can then address through quality improvement initiatives. A group of emergency physicians with quality improvement expertise analyzed the submitted audits and accompanying narrative templates, using a general inductive approach to develop a novel classification of recurrent quality themes. Since the Return Visit Quality Program launched in 2016, 125,698 return visits with admission have been identified, representing 0.93% of the 86 participating EDs' 13,559,664 visits. Overall, participating hospitals have conducted 12,852 detailed chart audits, uncovering 3,010 (23.4%) adverse events/quality issues and undertaking hundreds of quality improvement provincewide projects as a result. The inductive analysis revealed 11 recurrent themes, classified into 3 groupings: patient characteristics (ie, patient risk profile and elder care), ED team actions or processes (ie, physician cognitive lapses, documentation, handover/communication between providers, radiology, vital signs, and high-risk medications or medication interactions), and health care system issues (ie, discharge planning/community follow-up, left against medical advice/left without being seen, and imaging/testing availability). The Return Visit Quality Program is the largest mandatory audit program for EDs and provides a novel approach to identify local adverse events/quality issues to target for improved patient safety and quality of care. It provides a blueprint for health system leaders to enable clinicians to develop an approach to organizational quality, as well as for teams to construct an audit system that yields defined issues amenable to improvement.


Authors: Lucas B. Chartier, Howard Ovens, Emily Hayes, Brittany Davis, Lisa Calder, Michaael Schull, Jonaathan Dreyer, Olivia Ostrow

Lucas B. Chartier - lucas.chartier@uhn.ca

Project complete